Visited By "Angels"

I've been thinking a lot lately about Angels in America.  It's one of the most beautiful pieces of art I've ever experienced, and I've seen and felt different ways about it, as I changed and grew.  It's a piece that haunts me, like Streetcar, as it has a significance to my inner life-- my fears, my hopes,  that I can't completely fathom, but feel in my gut.  And each time I explore it, it hits me with a little more resonance.

The first time I saw the play I was with a girl I was seeing at the time.  We'd been together for about a year, though never "officially" (her decision, not mine) and around the time I met her I had had my first heady experience with another man.  He'd pursued me relentlessly at a time I felt very UN-pursuable, and being with him began to unlock feelings in me that I'd previously thought I could just ignore.  That idea of the closet??  It was a different thing for me.  The "closet" was never something I was knowingly locked inside.  Rather, it was a place inside me that I was choosing to ignore.  A locked corridor that I was afraid, if I opened its doors, I would never be able to close.  I was right.  I couldn't close it again, once it was open.  And I was wrong in the fact that opening that door didn't bring about hopelessness.  It didn't turn me into a joke of a human.  It made me far more human and honest than I could have thought was possible.  And it left me, in many ways, completely the same.
But at the time I first saw that show, I was just "experimenting".  I'd never done it in college (no one would have me) and now was the time. I did not see myself as gay.  This was not  play about me.  It was about "them".  I could sympathize with them, cry for them, appreciate them, but I was not them.  They were not of me.

By the time the HBO mini series came into life, I had really started explore this side of myself.  I had met someone who brought about all those mental fireworks I'd thought were a fairy tale.  While our relationship didn't last, the decision to never accept anything less than these feelings, that was permanent.  And this time?  It was a story about me.  A story that celebrated my passions, that made them mundane, it put me as a person in history.  It gave me a history.

It's true about art that whether it is or isn't appreciated says more about the person viewing it than about the work itself.  Art that truly comes from an honest place, a place of inquiry, of self exposure-- it's mere creation is success.  It's a gift to the creator and to those who experience it, and it will mean different things to different people.  Or to the SAME people, in different parts of their lives.  I'm glad I was exposed to works of art at a young age that I could only truly come to understand as I aged, because to have seen them in a hazy blur made it that much more significant when they came into focus a bit more.

There is a piece on that is an oral history of the making of Angels in America, and if you have a relationship to this play, I could not recommend it more.  It made me feel again all those surges of expectation and jolts of recognition that the show itself made me feel.  If you don't know the play?  Please watch this mini-series.  I beg you.

Today, I am making a trek to Central Park to visit The Bethesda Fountain which is so central to the story, as I feel pretty certain I will be re-visiting this story again to see what else it has in store.